Allyssia Alleyne and Cathy Crowe chat. Photo: Lindsay Boeckl

Lunch with a side of politics

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As the elections draw closer, Arts & Life Editor Allyssia Alleyne continues to give you a closer look at the local candidates, this time sitting down with Toronto-Centre NDP candidate Cathy Crowe

AA: So I hear that you’re a Ryerson alum.

CC: Yeah! I was already a nurse, but then I came back to school to get my bachelor of applied arts in nursing— that’s what it was called then.

AA: What was your favourite part about going to Ryerson?

CC: The courses were amazing. It was a small class, so we were allowed to pretty much shape and create what we wanted to do. We had a pathophysiology course, for example. I was able to take that and specialize in medical effects of nuclear war. That was during the end of the Cold War period. I was able to tell my teachers that I wanted to be able to write for publication, so I was then able to write an article for one of my courses that could then be published. It was really great because it was totally the concept of true self-directed learning. I was never told no for anything.

AA: When did you first start getting involved with politics and social change?

CC: It was probably just a little bit before I came to Ryerson. I helped form a group called Nurses for Social Responsibility. It’s partly because everywhere I went—I was going to police rallies and choice rallies—I was seeing all kinds of groups, and I was seeing nurses in the crowd, but not as a political force. We tackled people’s different interests. We tackled access to abortion, queer issues, trying to fight extra billing on health care. A whole range of things. That was probably the beginning.

AA: How involved are youth with the NDP campaign and your campaign in particular? I saw you here on clubs day.

CC: We’ve got a fair number of young people involved. Way more than other campaigns I’ve seen in this riding before.

AA: Based on your interaction with students, what issues do you think are most important to us this election?

CC: I think students want to be more engaged. I think they want to see politicians who aren’t career politicians, who are more activist based and more realistic about some of the programs. I think students care about—they have to care because they’re living it—the same issues that other, older folks and working people care about. How affordable is their housing? Obviously they care about tuition fees. I think they care about safety. I think they care about getting a job when they’re done, and environmental issues.

AA: What are some of the challenges in terms of youth engagement?

CC: The biggest challenge for us is how to make politics real to them. It often doesn’t seem real to most people.

AA: What do you mean?

CC: There’s a huge awareness of the election, but for sure younger people haven’t thought about it yet because it hasn’t been made relevant to them, and there’s a lot of mistrust.

AA: How do you feel about the NDP’s education platform?

CC: I think, overall, the platform has been fairly sensible in that there aren’t massive, massive promises that can’t be kept.

AA: Does the NDP have any plans for Ryerson?

CC: Nothing specific that I’m aware of yet. I’ve asked Sheldon Levy for a tour of Maple Leaf Gardens. I’m curious to know if, for example, there’s enough student space and community space.

AA: What’s something that no one knows about you?

CC: The biggest thing I gave up to run in this election was going to TIFF. Usually I go to 30 movies.

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